Walking with proverbs: Watch your step!

Have you ever experienced this feeling? “I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.”   One of my mentors, Tony Robbins teaches that sometimes change isn’t about aspiration or even inspiration.  Sometimes it is about desperation.  He teaches that in those conditions change will only occur when “…the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

If you have had one of those moments, or perhaps are walking beside someone who has, today’s post is for you.  When I reflect back over some of the most dramatic and meaningful changes in my own life I can definitely see a difference when the impetus to change was a point of desperation.

When I faced a health crisis in 2012 that required many months of treatment that left me wondering which was worse:  the disease or the treatment; I knew that once I was healed I would never again take having good health for granted.  I also knew that the way back to good health was not going to be easy.  It was going to take more than just a “want to”. It was going to take a “must”.  And that’s where we find the difference in our motivation.

Hiking boots, hiker, tourism in mountainsI came across an old proverb near the end of my treatments that stayed with me: “The path is made by walking.”  I made that my personal mantra for my own path to good health.  And I started walking.

Now it is so integrated into my life that it never occurs to me not to make sure that I am moving every day.

I recently had an injury to my foot that meant I had to cut back for a few weeks and it was amazing to me both how much it impacted my overall sense of well being and my own determination to get back to my “steps”.

It is in the discipline, the constancy of habit that we find our greatest triumphs.  The decision is made in the moment, but the practice lasts a lifetime.

In thinking about this in terms of proverbs, I looked for what I might find in the wisdom words of the past about steps.  And was delighted.  Here are a few that I loved as it pertains to the idea of daily disciplines and power habits:

  • The hardest step is over the threshold.
  • The first step binds one to the second.
  • Step by step climbs the hill.

It was hard to start. But once I did, each step led to the next and before I knew it, I was walking miles in a single day.  That was my hill. Is there something you need to begin? What will it take for you to get “over the threshold”?  Because only once you cross it can your journey begin.

The search brought others that are wonderful philosophical testaments to steps within our lives. Here are five of my favorites:

  • A sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life.
  • When the drummers change their beats the dancers must also change their steps.
  • He who wants to do a good jump must sometimes take a step back.
  • In choosing a friend, go up a step.
  • He who steps aside for someone broadens the way.

But perhaps my favorite is this one:  The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way you use them.

That’s a lesson we can use everyday. How will you use yours today?

Sunday’s Song: Proverbs and rain

The change of seasons is marked by many things;  The cooling and warming of the air, the turnings of color, the shedding and budding of leaves.  All of these bring about transition for us as well as we prepare for our days and lives.

When I first moved to Texas, there was a subtlety in these changes that seemed at first a bit boring, even a tad unsettling.  I didn’t realize how much of my life had been ordered by the cycles of the seasons.  Coming from the Great Lakes region I was used to extreme distinction between the seasons.  But over the years I have re-tuned my own senses to recognize the seasons as they exist here and now appreciate their beauty even in their subtlety.

As we’re moving into cooler temperatures (for those that aren’t familiar with south Texas – that means anything under 85 degrees..) one thing we experience are refreshing rains.  After long months of heat and often draught, the rains bring relief and reminders of life cycles.  When looking at proverbs on the subject, I found one that created a lovely image:

When clouds appear like rocks and towers, earth is refreshed by frequent showers.

Those rocks and towers in the sky are going to give way to refreshing showers.  Just as in life.  Everything grows and changes.  Everything gives way.

Enjoy this week’s selection from Brian Crain, a piano and violin duet called Rain.  Inspired today by the rain.


Perseverance, patience & proverbs

Perseverance concept.Patience has never been a virtue I have associated with myself. I’m also fairly certain my family and friends would agree with that assessment.  But tenacity and perseverance are among my strengths. My inner circle would also agree with that statement.  It may seem that those statements are in conflict but never the less, they are both true.

For me, the word patience brings forth an image of “waiting”.  It does not seem to be an active state. But the word perseverance brings forth an image of continued, perhaps even relentless action.

Over time (with much practice..) I have learned that I can be patient waiting for results provided that I am working toward those results. No matter what miracle we may be actively seeking, it will be in our personal action that we find the “will” to stay the course and persevere.  There is truly nothing more exhausting than doing nothing.

The question then is how to keep ourselves inspired and motivated when our patience for the end result begins to wear thin. How do we persevere? Over many generations, proverbs have played a part in our internal (and external) dialogue to keep us going.

Here are five of my favorites:

  1. One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
  2. The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
  3. It is only when the cold season comes that we know the pine and cypress to be evergreens.
  4. From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.
  5. Little brooks make great rivers.

When you need that extra “push”, what proverb, saying or mantra do you call to mind? I’d love to hear yours!

Thoughts (& Proverbs) on friendship

friends holding togehter on beachCharlie “Tremendous” Jones once said: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  Without question, my life is a testament to that sentiment.  I have been richly blessed by both.  In some ways, they are quite similar.  After all, a good book truly can be a friend and the stories of our friends and shared with them are what bind us together.

Today came news that is sad.  News that an old friend suddenly passed from this life.  And while I know and acknowledge that there is no competition in grief, sudden death seems to have its own sharpened edge of pain.  We are not prepared and there’s nothing we can say to ourselves or others that rationalizes it with any kind of relief.  But as always, our comfort doesn’t come from anything about their death.  It comes from everything about their life and the gift given to us to share it however briefly.

And so while today’s post may seem a bit somber, it’s not meant to be.  It’s meant to pay homage to a friend by acknowledging the fact that being their friend and having them for a friend made a difference.  For me.  And for many others.  These words are my offering because each of these also call forth an image from memory of what it was like to know him.

There can be no friendship where there is no freedom. –  How lovely it is to be in the company of friends that afford us the freedom to simply be ourselves. 

The world is but a little place, after all. – Even where we are most different, we can always find a common place.  There is always a place where friendship can live.

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.  – It creates comfort and confidence knowing that whatever may be ahead, friends will be there with us and for us.

The best mirror is an old friend. – The ultimate truth about friendship.  In our friends we see ourselves.  And we reflect them as well.  I am better because of my friends. I want to live so that they can and will say the same of me.

Rest in peace dear friend.  We will see you again. Ride free.

4 Life Lessons From Proverbs

Learn and share 3D crossword on white backgroundThe basic purpose of a proverb is to teach or to share an insight, a single sentence that holds lifetimes of knowledge.  I have learned a great deal more about them since deciding to center our conversations here this month on proverbs. It seems that there are nearly as many definitions as there are proverbs themselves!

But one attribute universally agreed upon is that if you know who originally said it, it’s not a proverb, it’s a quotation.  What is more interesting though is that many of the most quoted people have actually been sharing something with its roots in a proverb.

Here are four proverbs from [date & source unknown] paired with quotes from today.  As you go about your week, pick one and let it challenge you to inspect your life and find opportunities to grow.

#1 – Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves.

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” (Colin Powell)

#2 – Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  (Jim Rohn)

#3 – The pen is mightier than the sword.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela)

#4 – To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.

“There’s a certain moment in every memorable journey, often recognized only in hindsight, when the trip you are on presents itself, and the one you thought you were taking or had planned is jettisoned.  It’s then that you being really traveling, not merely touring.” (Andrew McCarthy)